It's a beautiful evening, clear skies, a slight breeze, and being a Saturday night there are people and a hubbub of activity, so I decided to walk back to the hotel rather than take Denver's awesome "FreeRide." I could hear music playing and people laughing, glasses clinking in the outdoor cafes and pubs, and the clickety click of horses hooves on the pavement as the carriages pulled passengers along the 16th Street Mall.
I was feeling all warm and fuzzy on so many levels. I was thinking about how I'm losing this weight, making so many new friends, how my job/career is successful and how I get to stay at such a great hotel and how easy it would be to get used to a "silver spoon" kind of lifestyle.
And then I started paying attention in the center aisle area as I walked. There are walkways on either side, but there is a center island area, too. While the bustle of activity is on the outer edges, the inside was made up of locals. There were people sitting around chatting. In another area, there was a table and there were men sitting around playing chess. There were a couple of people sitting on a bench. They each had a large bag, like an overnight bag, and their clothing was tattered. There was a woman bent over, struggling to close/secure a rather large trash bag full of belongings and she had two pieces of luggage she kept trying to keep from tipping over.
And it slowly occurred to me...some of these people are homeless. I watched the woman for a while struggling with her bags. She wasn't angry or upset. She was just "taking care of business" in her own way. I wondered about her story...about their stories. Why was she there? Were these all of her belongings? Why was no one there to help her? I felt...I don't know what I felt....almost an affection towards her. Maybe a bit of understanding..that there but for the grace of God go I...if I lost my job I don't really have "backup" and I could end up homeless. And it just underscored how very, very fortunate I am. Yes, life has been hard for me sometimes. But I have so very much to be grateful for, so many positives come my way all the time.
I looked to see if I had any cash. Mind you, she wasn't asking anyone for any. I just felt..,it's one small thing I could do. As I handed it to her, she thanked me and said "God bless you." I could feel myself starting to cry so I looked away and started walking so she wouldn't see me. I felt like she had a lot of pride and wouldn't want that....
A little further down I heard a man singing and playing the piano. In Denver, they have placed pianos all along the sidewalks for people to sit and play for free. Just walk along, find a piano, sit, play to your heart's content..it's pretty cool. This man had a beautiful voice. As I rounded the corner to see him, there was another man standing beside him, he also had a bag of belongings and he was really engrossed in the music. I wondered about them. Did they know each other? Were either of them homeless? What was their story? They both were sharing a moment with me though...the genuine appreciation of music. I lingered there a while before coming up to my room just now.
The weight loss is important. The job and career are important. The travel and sightseeing and education - all important. But what really matters is who I am as a person. Do I see the people around me? (I think sometimes I don't.) Or do I hustle by and not see them? Do I stop to listen to the music? Or do I have some important agenda and no time to stop and share a moment with someone? Am I a good person? Do I care about others? Am I the kind of role model I would want for my son? Am I raising him to be the kind of man who "sees" others?
Ahhhhh the things that rattle around in my brain. What matters isn't reaching every goal or racing to the finish line. What really matters is the journey we take to get there, and the little choices we make along the way: see, or don't see? stop or keep going? share or ignore? reach out or pretend you don't see.
It's been a beautiful night and I think it couldn't really have ended any nicer for me than pausing to reflect on what matters. :-)